A series of games that pushed the limits of what a game could be, with complicated themes and interesting characters. They also make great use of cardboard boxes. What’s not to like about Metal Gear Solid?
The series has always been a game/film hybrid and that cinematic quality has been both a blessing and a curse, with radio conversations and cut scenes routinely lasting over ten minutes. Often, I just put the controller down and watch. Getting the shout of “Chris, dinner!” led to some tricky choices.
For now at least however the main series seems to have reached its conclusion. So how do they all compare? Metal Gear Solid Ranked!
I’ve kept relatively up to date with the series, but I’ll add entries as I play more. Shall we start with the worst?
Metal Gear Survive – PS4, 2018
MGS V’s main strength was its game play. So Metal Gear using that games mechanics could lead you to believe it would at least play reasonably. Sadly it’s a blatant cash-grab; a quick buck to made to be made from a series without it’s leader to protect it.
So it doesn’t play as well as the game it’s based on. It doesn’t look as good either! The menus are convoluted. The dialogue is lacking and treats you like an idiot. MGS stories rarely make that much sense, but this takes the biscuit. It’s just crap.
After several hours wandering around, hoping for improvement, I laid my avatar down in a puddle and waited for him to starve. For a game called Survive, dying was the only aspect of the game I fully understood.
A Metal Gear in name only, Survive typifies the mess that Konami are in. I tried.
MGS 2: Sons of Liberty – PS2, 2001
Vying for title of the most hyped game ever, MGS2 had a lot of live up to. The trailers and demo set a high bar too. Unfortunately, the final product was patchy in meeting expectations.
The opening tanker section is top tier; the smashed glass, rain effects and design of the ship were a show-reel for what the PS2 could do. We were back in Snake’s shoes investigating a new Metal Gear! I didn’t even mind the mullet. I could probably still do a decent speed run on it I know it so well.
But the main game was very different. Big Shell was fine. The problem was Raiden.
We were meant to question who we were playing as, question our superiors and see Snake from an outsider’s point of view. Instead we got a technically brilliant but overly convoluted game.
Don’t even get me started on E.E.
MGS 5: The Phantom Pain – PS4, 2015
Yes, The Phantom Pain is this low down the list.
Blaring ‘Take On Me’ out over the loudspeakers as I landed my chopper into a hot zone and went loud was just as enjoyable as being dropped off with D-Dog hundreds of meters away and making my way in silently.
The furore over the voice cast quickly subsised. Ultimately it was the right choice to cast Kiefer Sutherland as Big Boss and Solid Snake needed to be differentiated.
MGSV is let down by its story. I’m used to crazy, but MGSV doesn’t actually end. It just peters out. With repeated missions and inconclusive story, MGSV ends one of the greatest stories in gaming with a whimper. Komani completely fucked it up.
Kojima was gone soon after, So things clearly weren’t good, which I can only assume is the reason why the story feels truncated, abrupt and disappointing.
MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots – PS3, 2008
The PS3 only had full entry, which wowed us with it’s looks, and tied up everything we had seen so far. OctoCamo was a well judged follow on from the camo used in Snake Eater. And we could finally pause cutscenes!
Good thing too as there are a lot of them.
MGS4 felt like a road trip, visiting famous locales as it gave the series a sense of finality.
That’s not to say it didn’t still have some surprises. Even the though of a return to Shadow Moses still blows my mind.
I’ve never been sold on Drebin or his points system. I get that war being a business—but it jarred with what I expected from the games up to that point. This was a big move away from OSP.
Part conclusion, part nostalgia trip, this game was a fitting end for Solid Snake.
MGS: Peace Walker – PSP, 2010, PS3, 2011
Originally a PSP game, I played this on the Xbox 360. It plays well, taking Big Boss on a journey that pleasingly explains his change from famous soldier to leader of an ‘army without a nation’. I’m really glad I played it before getting into The Phantom Pain.
Due to the limitations of the original hardware the game is split into smaller mission areas. I never found myself getting bored with visiting similar places and the leaner story was one of the stronger in the series.
The artwork in particular, used instead of video, was beautiful. Hayter’s Snake voice was getting a bit crazy at this point though. Much like Bale’s Batman it seems no one put a check on just how throaty and gravelly it should get.
Don’t overlook this one because it was a handheld game. It’s important in the mythos and a great game in general.
MGS 3: Snake Eater – PS2, 2004
Kojima defied expectations, taking us back to the sixties and focusing on someone most of us didn’t know much about, Solid Snake’s Dad Big Boss.
Kyle Cooper, director of the opening sequences for 2 and 3, went all out on a Bondesque introduction. It even had a title song!
After two games sneaking through various concrete, the jungle environment was a joy to sneak through and a technical marvel.
he boss fight with The End is a great battle in a series full of them. You could avoid battling The End by taking a cheeky shot earlier in the game. If you weren’t that quick-witted though you had a lengthy battle of stealth against the old sniper.
Meeting a young Big Boss was a big departure but it worked, not only giving us a great game but a large part of the history that lead up to Solid Snake.
Metal Gear Solid – PS1, 1998
An obvious, but correct choice. From the moment I saw the demo in a shop, that was it. I hadn’t played it but I knew I needed it. Never would have guessed I’d still be playing it twenty years later.
MGS was unlike any game I’d played before. And then there was the cinematic quality. It was like controlling the main character in a movie. The lengthy cutscenes did take some getting used to though.
Cyborg Ninja. Revolver Ocelot. Vulcan Raven. Liquid Snake. The characters were outrageous but also extremely well acted. It would have been a lot harder to get into if they hadn’t been so effective.
Crazy boss battles (A Hind-D?!). A cool main character. Double and triple crosses. Breaking the fourth wall. 556ers and pineapples. I’ve never had to watch the butt wiggle of a soldier before.
Metal Gear Solid is the best Metal Gear game.
There you go! I’ve lifted the lid off my cardboard box and pushed my opinion out there. Let me know what you think!